Art review: Mira Schor at CB1 Gallery


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At CB1 Gallery, 21 paintings, most modest in size, by veteran New York artist Mira Schor span 1992 to the present. (Fourteen are from the last five years.) Language is a common image, especially in the earlier work, in which words such as ‘lack,’ ‘trace,’ ‘sign’ and ‘silence’ meditate on the range of qualities a painted object can and cannot accommodate.

‘Flesh’ (1997) is among the most resonant. Fleshy pink oil paint looks variously laid on with a palette knife, a small brush and maybe even fingers. Written in script, the title word is scratched into the uneven surface, revealing darker red under-painting. The incision suggests a blade has cut into skin to expose an open wound. As this particular word is made into flesh, it joins with the activity of painting to make a potent talisman.


Painting, especially American abstract painting, has long been likened to the human body -- a skin stretched taut over a skeletal support. Schor’s more recent paintings introduce thought bubbles and mechanize the figure with a flat, robot-like form. The robot seems variously puzzled and obsessed by an old-fashioned printed book carried in its hand.

The robot might be female, since it appears to wear a dress. But the schematic, profile style also harkens back to the hieroglyphic figures of ancient Egypt, who speak a mysterious language that continues to fascinate. A better analogy than that for the place of painting in today’s hyper-digital universe is difficult to imagine.

-- Christopher Knight

CB1 Gallery, 207 W. 5th St., L.A., (213) 806-7889, through Jan. 9. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays.